The first, formal campaign promise of the 2018 race for governor comes from Democrat Alec Ross, who is proposing mandatory requirements for all Maryland schools to provide computer coding and science courses by 2022.
Ross, a technology entrepreneur and former adviser of Hillary Clinton, is the first candidate to formally launch a bid for Maryland governor.
The policy proposed by Ross would spend an estimated $80 million on K-12 education over the next 10 years, to ensure students have access to computer science courses, with heavy emphasis on learning computer code. According to Ross’ campaign, such courses are only offered by 40 percent of Maryland schools.
How the initiative would be paid for was not mentioned, but the campaign said it was a minute figure comparative to the $6.4 billion the state spends on K-12 education annually.
In the modern economy, technology firms are fundamental drivers of wealth, but many individuals are not qualified to join them and only a small number of parents can teach their children how to write code, Ross said in a statement. If Maryland set requirements for universal computer science training in K-12, the playing field for people of color and women could be balanced.
“Right now, the technology economy does not reflect who we are as a society,” Ross said in a statement. “By delivering computer science education to all students starting with elementary school, we will broaden the pipeline of young people of all races, genders and geographies that choose to become computing professionals.”
Arkansas adopted mandatory computer science training in 2015. Under the law, all high schools would be required to enroll in the courses.